The Goods


Introducing datapasta

datapasta is about reducing resistance associated with copying and pasting data to and from R. It is a response to the realisation that I often found myself using intermediate programs like Sublime to munge text into suitable formats. Addins and functions in datapasta support a wide variety of input and output situations, so it (probably) “just works”. Hopefully tools in this package will remove such intermediate steps and associated frustrations from our data slinging workflows.


  • Linux users will need to install either xsel or xclip. These applications provide an interface to X selections (clipboard-like).
    • For example: sudo apt-get install xsel - it’s 72kb…
  • Windows and MacOS have nothing extra to do.


  1. Get the package: install.packages("datapasta")
  2. Set the keyboard shortcuts using Tools -> Addins -> Browse Addins, then click Keyboard Shortcuts…


Use with RStudio

Getting data into source

At the moment this package contains these RStudio addins that paste data to the cursor:

  • tribble_paste which pastes a table as a nicely formatted call to tibble::tribble()
    • Recommend Ctrl + Shift + t as shortcut.
    • Table can be delimited with tab, comma, pipe or semicolon.
  • vector_paste which will paste delimited data as a vector definition, e.g. c("a", "b") etc.
    • Recommend Ctrl + Alt + Shift + v as shortcut.
  • vector_paste_vertical which will paste delimited data as a vertically formatted vector definition.
    • Recommend Ctrl + Shift + v as shortcut
    • example output:
  • df_paste which pastes a table on the clipboard as a standard data.frame definition rather than a tribble call. This has certain advantages in the context of reproducible examples and educational posts. Many thanks to Jonathan Carroll for getting this rolling and coding the bulk of the feature.
    • Recommend Ctrl + Alt + Shift + d as shortcut.
  • dt_paste which is the same as df_paste, but for data.table.

Massaging data in source

There are two Addins that can help with creating and aligning data in your editor:

  • Fiddle Selection will perform magic on a selection. It can be used to:
    • Turn raw data delimited by any combination of commas, spaces, and newlines into a c() expression
    • Pivot a c() expr between horizontal and vertical layout.
    • Reflow messy tribble() and data.frame() exprs.
    • Recommend Ctrl +Shift + f as shortcut.
  • Toggle Vector Quotes will toggle a c() expr between all elements wrapped in "" and all bare unquoted form. Handy in combination with above to save mucho keystrokes.
    • Recommend Ctrl +Shift + q as shortcut.

Getting Data out of an R session

There are two R functions available that accept R objects and output formatted text for pasting to a reprex or other application:

  • dpasta accepts tibbles, data.frames, and vectors. Data is output in a format that matches in input class. Formatted text is pasted at the cursor.

  • dmdclip accepts the same inputs as dpasta but inserts the formatted text onto the clipboard, preceded by 4 spaces so that is can be as pasted as a preformatted block to Github, Stackoverflow etc.

Use with other editors

The only hard dependency of datapasta is readr for type guessing. All the above *paste functions can be called directly instead of as an addin, and will fall back to console output if the rstudioapi is not available.

On system without access to the clipboard (or without clipr installed) datapasta can still be used to output R objects from an R session. dpasta is probably the only function you care about in this scenario.

Custom Installation

datapasta imports clipr and rstudioapi so as to make installation smooth and easy for most users. If you wish to avoid installing an rstudioapi you will never use you can use:


  • tribble_paste works well with CSVs, excel files, and html tables, but is currently brittle with respect to irregular table structures like merged cells or multi-line column headings. For some reason Wikipedia seems chock full of these. :(
  • Quoted csv data, where the quotes contain commas will not be parsed correctly.
  • Nested list columns have limited support with tribble_paste()/dpasta(). Nested lists of length 1 fail unless all are length 1 - It’s complicated. You still get some output so it might be viable to fix and reflow with Fiddle Selection. Tread with caution.

Prior art

This package is made possible by mdlincon’s clipr, and Hadley’s packages tibble and readr (for data-type guessing). I especially appreciate clipr's thoughtful approach to the clipboard on Linux, which pretty much every other R clipboard package just nope’d out on.

Future developments

I am interested in expanding the types of objects supported by the output functions dpasta. I would also like to eventually have Fiddle Selection to pivot function calls and named vectors. Feel free to contribute your ideas to the open issues.


0 to datapasta in 64 seconds via a video vignette:

Datapasta in 64 seconds